Around the world in 30 seconds
May 25, 2006 § Leave a comment
Redmond and Bellvue, WA, USA – May 16 – 18, 2006: Jumping from group to group at Microsoft‘s first ever Community Affairs Summit, I felt like had gone around the world in 30 seconds. The room was filled with people from every corner of the planet (okay, it was pointed out that there was no one from Antarctica) … and all of them were dedicated to rolling out Microsoft’s Unlimited Potential program. 120 people in one room talking about how to do a better job of funding telecentres. That’s my kind of party.
As I mingled, it was clear that Microsoft has built a tribe of people who ‘get’ telecentres. This is an impressive feat given the fact that their corporate giving was at one time fairly unfocused and scattershot. In a few short years, they have developed a clear program that zooms in on the telecentre (or community technology learning centre) space. Almost all of the people they have recruited to roll out this program understand both the potential of locally driven tech centres and the difficulties involved in making them work. These are passionate people who work with telecentre leaders and managers on a daily basis.
The ‘network consciousness’ of the group was another matter. Outside of the Microsoft people we are working with actively in South Asia, Africa and Latin America, few people really knew what telecentre.org was about. And, even fewer where thinking about their work within the context of the broader telecentre movement. I used my five minutes of fame on a plenary to address this, saying something like: “You need to think of yourselves as more than just community affairs managers. You need to be catalysts in the telecentre ecosystem. You need to be activists for the telecentre movement.” I got alot of nods and smiles, and the conversations about networks and how they can help picked up steam from there. Nods and smiles are a good start. However, there is still alot more to be done to show people in Microsoft (and everywhere) how networks can plug into their work and amp up their impact.
PS. A side note of deep kudos to Ricardo Gomez: he proved to be a master facilitator of this passionate crowd, helping them to build relationships and sketch out a common future. Very well done.